Homily – Sunday 17th March 2019


During Lent, we hope that our faith may grow deeper and stronger.  Or we might put this in a slightly different way:  during Lent, we resolve to take our faith more seriously – asking God to defend us from taking him, and his grace and mercy, for granted.   Because the fact of the matter is that we need always to remember there is something infinitely awesome about the mystery of the Lord’s Mercy.

In today’s First Reading from the Book of Genesis and in today’s Gospel, the awesomeness of God’s Mercy is brought before us very powerfully.   The First Reading tells us of God, in his mercy, making a Covenant with Abram – promising him countless descendants and the gift of the Holy Land.  But the author of Genesis also makes clear that God’s act of mercy took place in a way that left Abram at the time quite overcome with awe and wonder:

‘Now as the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and terror seized him’.

Then again, in today’s Gospel, St Luke brings before us the vision of the transfigured Lord – the vision of his transcendent glory that Jesus, in his mercy, granted to the three Apostles:  the vision that was given them so that they might have the courage to remain with Jesus, as he went up to Jerusalem to suffer and die.  But again, the revelation of the Lord’s mercy to the three Apostles left them overcome with awe and wonder – just as the Lord’s revelation of his mercy to Abram had left him stunned and terrified.

As St Luke records it, on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter ‘did not know what he was saying.   As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid’.

As we reflect on these Readings, let us pray that they may lead us to an ever deeper wonder and reverence in the face of the mystery of God’s Mercy towards us.  At Mass, we are brought face to face with the cost of God’s Mercy toward us – as we re-present sacramentally on the Altar the Sacrifice of Calvary:  God revealing the infinite extent of his Mercy towards us, as Jesus pours out his life-blood and hands over his Spirit.

This is the measure of God’s Mercy.  Jesus is ‘merciful like the Father’.  And his message to us is to imitate this same Mercy:  ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful’.  May we have confidence to respond to this challenge – and recognise just how far the measure of God’s Mercy may stretch us beyond the ordinary call of duty.